With almost everyone getting into technology more and more, our GEMS conference this year even had a hashtag! Thankfully, it was not used as often as you might think. We were busy!
I was blessed to be able to go a day early and stay a day longer in order to spend time with my MI family. It has been over a year since I had seen them last, so I loved EVERY minute of it!
I taught my nephew how to take selfies! What are aunts for, if not for that?
Got kisses from my niece – she’s a sweetie!
Except she doesn’t smile when you hold up a camera and say, “Smile, Claire!”
But she smiles when you tickle her!
I got to see my 91-year-old grandma while I was there, too!
Then I headed to Calvin for the conference. The committee had written with sidewalk chalk all over the campus – really fun!
My dorm…not the one I lived in as a student back in the day, though.
Two of my great loves had their signs right next to each other! Just needed to put in a little Logos sign (which could have happened, since Logos was a presenter at this conference for the first time!) and maybe a Lynden Christian sign and then I would have been simply in heaven.
I presented a workshop this year on Creative Ways to bless your GEMS. I was super fortunate to have my workshop be in the first workshop time slot of the conference! Woo-hoo! All attendees were fresh and NOT SLEEPY! I had a super great time at the workshop & I pray the ladies who came did, too! The picture above is a picture of some of the cute samples I made and then gave away throughout the workshop.
Some of our great praise & worship leaders…what a blessing they all were!
My small group table during theme night.
One of the workshops I was able to attend was to Kids Food Basket, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids that provides sack dinners to poverty level students in the Grand Rapids area. They provide 5000+ dinners per day! Their building isn’t large, but it is efficient. The tables above are used in assembly line fashion to put together all those sack dinners. They like to have the brown paper bags they use decorated for the students, so as part of our theme night service project, we each decorated 5+ bags, so we got to drop off those 3000 bags when we went. It seemed like a lot until we found out that 3000 wasn’t even enough bags for one days worth of dinners. Wow. Anyway, we got a quick tour, and then we got to portion pita chips into snack size baggies to be used in the next days dinners. Since the workshops are only 75 minutes long, by the time we drove there and allotted time to drive back, we only had about 15-20 minutes of “getting our hands dirty.” I would have LOVED to be able to have this workshop cover 2 workshop slots so that we could have felt like we actually made a difference, rather than just causing an inconvenience of the workers setting up something we could do really fast. They get a lot of food donated, but they also purchase non-perishables from the local food pantry for something like 17 cents/pound. They have an ambitious goal of including fresh fruit & vegetable in every dinner as well. It’s a great organization and I’m so glad I got to find out about it.
At every conference, there is a Women’s Night Out. This year we were able to go to the Meijer Garden in GR…we got on a bus to be shuttled there and our bus driver took a VERY roundabout way to get there (I know, because I know how to get there!) to go through the back entrance…which ended up to be closed! Aack! But, once we got there we could roam through the indoor garden and take a very abridged version of their sculpture tram ride (I’m glad it was abridged, although I would have liked to be able to walk around the sculpture gardens and other outdoor garden areas.) We ate dinner in the outside café, admired the Chihuly glass, and listened to both Tammy Trent and Allison Allen, both of whom were DYNAMIC and MEANINGFUL speakers to hear, both that night and the other times we heard them at conference. SO blessed by them!
Me & my roomie, Brenda, who is the Leadership Trainer in southern BC. I knew her previously, but we didn’t know each other super well before rooming together…but NOW we do!
We titled this statue, “Words with Friends”…which you will only find funny if you are familiar with Words with Friends.
My sweet GEMS sister, Amy, from New Jersey. Adore her. Her trust in the Lord is inspiring.
After the conference was over I headed back to see my family. We went to Lake Michigan and had a great time!
And ice cream after the beach, OF COURSE!
Ended my time in MI giving the babe a bath and then a very early morning flight back home. So thankful for safety while traveling, my MI family, & the GEMS staff & volunteers.